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A Manual for Creating Atheists
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A Manual for Creating Atheists

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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  778 ratings  ·  97 reviews
For thousands of years, the faithful have honed proselytizing strategies and talked people into believing the truth of one holy book or another. Indeed, the faithful often view converting others as an obligation of their faith—and are trained from an early age to spread their unique brand of religion. The result is a world broken in large part by unquestioned faith. As an ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published November 1st 2013 by Pitchstone Publishing (first published January 1st 2013)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,050)
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Alex Ristea
If you want an intro to Peter Boghossian, I highly recommend the following two videos:

Critical Thinking Crash Course

Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and Other Delusions. Just Say No!

This books argues that "faith is an unreliable process for arriving at the truth," and defines faith as: "pretending to know things that you don't know."

If you need an answer to an objective question like "what are the dimensions of the bathroom door that I need to replace?" (as opposed to a subjective question like "is ketc
...more
Ken Bour
I have a tremendous amount to say about this book, but this review will be be a shortened version until I have sufficient time to (a) read it again (ugh!) quoting snippets to support my myriad contentions and concerns, and (b) write a defensible counter-argument to Boghossian's "manual" for creating atheists.

Boghossian's entire exhortation against religious belief is framed around an imputed epistemology that is based upon a definition of the term Faith, which he explains at the outset, as "pret
...more
Dan Arel
The title alone will stop you in your tracks, “A Manual for Creating Atheists”, a new book by philosopher Peter Boghossian.

At first glance, I thought I was look at atheist proselytizing, the very thing we atheists often stand against. I was wrong, and in a really good way.

This book will in fact create atheists, and this book will make you the creator of some, but it will not be by preaching atheism, denouncing god or even denouncing religion. You are going to create atheists by simply learning h
...more
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A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian

"A Manual for Creating Atheists" is a guide on how to talk people out of their faith. This book provides the framework on how to become a Street Epistemologist; that is a person equipped with the philosophical tools necessary to help others leave behind their faith and replace it with reason. Dr. Boghossian a professor of philosophy, offers atheists with a much needed tool that provides structure and confidence on how to convey and embrace doubt.
...more
Darrel
Nov 19, 2013 Darrel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those seeking to understand religious infection.
I read a prerelease copy of this book and loved it. This is not a book to just read, but to study as well. Dr. Boghossian has written a very understandable approach to working with those who are infected with religious ideas. While logic is not always the answer, he helps show how simple questions can lead the way to deeper thought and understanding of the religious. His key notion that "faith is not a reliable way of knowing" is easy to understand yet profound. It is something the "faithful" ha ...more
Jimmy
"Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity . . . the grave will supply plenty of time for silence."--Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

"The idea, therefore, that religious faith is somehow a sacred human convention--distinguished, as it is, both by the extravagance of its claims and by the paucity of its evidence--is really too great a monstrosity to be appreciated in all its glory."--Sam Harris, The End of Faith

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."--The
...more
Xavier Shay
The best book on teaching critical thinking I have read. Includes "intervention dialogues" transcripts, plenty of research, genuine compassion and empathy for believers, plus a wealth of experience in the author (who has been teaching philosophy and talking about faith for decades).

Boghossian relentlessly focuses on attacking faith as a means of attaining truth, not attacking relgion:
"Reasoning away faith means helping people to abandon a faulty epistemology, but reasoning away religion means t
...more
Blair Dowden
This Doctor Should Follow His Own Prescription

I was assured this book would provide insight about why people believe what they do, and what it takes to change their minds. It delivered on this promise to some extent, but the author fails to follow his own good suggestions. Hence the title on the clumsy 1960’s style cover, and the unnecessarily polarizing writing inside.

The book is specifically intended to teach people how to talk others out of their faith. He defines “faith” in two ways: “Belief
...more
Lance Goff
Here is the review I posted on my blog:

Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists, is a timely and cogent new book that provides practical tools for talking people out of faith. In spite of its title, the book is not nearly as aggressive as one might suppose. What sets it apart from the pile of atheism books that have been written in the past decade is that Boghossian, a philosophy professor, goes after the certainty and knowledge claims of faith-based beliefs from a position of logic and
...more
Dorian
This isn't a book "about atheism," it's about the difference between critical thinking and faith (correctly applied) as a path to knowledge/knowing. That's the nutshell version - I had several parts noted that I wanted to address for this review. I'll pare it down, though, to my favorite points.
1) Boghossian discusses Aristotle's distinction between moral and intellectual virtues - important to remember when discussing epistemology (the study of knowledge).
2) He addresses the taboo of criticizin
...more
Mike
If you have already read the diatribes by Harris and Dawkins on religion then there's no real need to get this book. All Boghossian is doing is borrowing the language of 'faith' as a virus (which he doesn't substantiate by the way) and asserting that religion is delusional. Of course, Boghossian never actually gives any evidence for this and neither does he even attempt any serious interaction with the people he's criticizing in his book but instead clearly thinks the rhetoric alone will suffice ...more
Steve
It must be Peter Boghossian's experience in martial arts that leads him to describe his method of street epistemology as the art of, 'confronting without confronting'. Some forty years ago I heard a charismatic Bruce Lee describe, in a similar manner , his style of fighting as, 'The art of fighting without fighting.'
The phrase has always stayed with me and it seems the perfect description for Boghossian's no-nonsense vaccine for, as he describes it, the faith virus.

From the sampling of intervent
...more
Bakari
Spent most of the day finishing this book. Appreciate the author’s call for atheists to become “Street Epistemologist”, willing to challenge faith as epistemology. Boghossian doesn’t waste time quoting and discrediting Bible stories and verses, nor does he talk specifically about the role of churches. No, he exposes and criticizes the epicenter of religion, faith itself as the source of the problem.

I agree with most of his analysis, and though I don’t get a chance to be a Street Epistemologist
...more
Brendan Egan
Really good stuff. A manual on how to stir the pot and not be a total dick about it.

My one qualm with the book is the title. I think it's going to do the book some harm. Boghossian says somewhere in the book (I lost the page) that he doesn't want lead people to atheism but to reason and logic. Atheism is just a byproduct of that reason. If that's the case, then maybe the title should reflect the reason and logic bit. More people would probably be willing to check this out if they didn't think it
...more
David
One of the most interesting things for me was learning about how the author has applied these motivated-interviewing techniques to working with diabetes patients - That, I want to read a book about. Maybe a future work? I would be happy to help with that research.

Despite the agitprop title, I was attracted to this book post de facto for its robust attack on relativism and was not disappointed. Also, the guy lives in Portland, hey. I am personally not so interested in converting anyone (need I sa
...more
Ross Blocher
Peter Boghossian is something of an atheist bulldozer, on a mission to create more bulldozers. The proposed target for their destructive power? Faith. I don't think Boghossian would object to the characterization, as he jumps straight into examples of his interventions with people of faith and strategies to marginalize faith as an epistemology toward the ultimate goal of eradicating it as one might polio or smallpox.

This is not a book aimed toward believers, and Boghossian doesn't waste any time
...more
Kevin
I really enjoyed this book.

Peter's focus is amazing. He outlines his thoughts very well and offers compelling guidance.

Just the philosophical notes outlining faith, hope, epistemology, etc are worth the read.

I also enjoyed the distinctions he draws between religion and faith.

A great read.
Melissa
Minus one star for the author's focus on eradicating religion instead of just harmful, irrational thinking (which can be both religious and nonreligious). Otherwise, full of excellent debate points and practical advice.
Brian Williams
A Manual for Creating Atheists offers a practical perspective on how best to talk to people about faith and religion. Unlike other recent authors (Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins etc..) Boghossian's book concentrates on how to separate people from their faith and not just why it's a good idea. I'm excited to try out Boghossian's methods as he makes an excellent case for why they are effective and I'm expecting them to be superior to my former techniques. The main thing that I'll be doing differently i ...more
Nick
Cory
Wow. Peter Boghossian manages to get so, so much wrong about faith that a facepalm is the only appropriate response.

Arguing isn't an appropriate response. This book, which outlines a strategy to argue people out of religious faith, tells its readers not to accept ANY definition of faith other than "pretending to know things you don't know" from a believer and if a believer tries to argue faith is something different DON'T LET THEM. Therefore, I can't argue with him that this is NOT what faith is
...more
Tiffany
Definitely fills a niche and a need, although I had a few issues. One, it is a bit heavy on philosophy (the author's specialty) and some readers might get a little bored/lost. Two, my ire was raised when the author started criticizing academic feminism without citations. The feminist movement silent on the Taliban? When we went to war with Afghanistan I knew more about the Taliban than many Americans because their abuses against women had been covered so thoroughly in feminist publications. Some ...more
Alan Litchfield
I've reviewed this book elsewhere, but I think this book is so important that I need to restate what I think about it here.

Many people still invoke faith as a way of knowing, despite it being highly unlikely to help one arrive at the truth. This is why I'm grateful for this book. Throughout the work Boghossian provides conversational strategies and tactics designed to lead religious believers from faith to reason. The book offers diagnostic methods, provides practical examples of conversations,
...more
Devon
This will be a very short review.

I stopped reading this manual. Not because I found the content particularly contentious. I am, after all, atheist. But because Boghosian was overly repetitive in his prose. The repetition is probably very strong for cementing key ideas about epistemology and philosophy. And being very well-read on epistemology, biases and fallacies, sociology, and the four horsemen, this book is not for me.

Furthermore, I suspect that some of Boghosian's arguments will not play w
...more
Correen

I appreciate books advocating a secular life but not so much this one. He is a rationalist who appears not to appreciate anything that does not conform to his rationalist thinking. I think his ideas do not fit with recent information released by brain scientists. Studies testing rationalists suggest that even they do not make decisions primarily based on rational thinking -- they just think they do.
BG Josh
this book finally sets in order a number of arguments that I have had over the years, mainly about games and role playing games.

the issue is not people's understanding of religion (or games, or politics, or economics, or the supernatural) but instead their understanding of epistemology.

since reading this book I have cut a dozen arguments short by exposing the other persons epistemological shortcomings.

(in answer to the obvious question: I have no idea if this makes me less of a jerk. it has a
...more
Jeff
Loved this book. So much helpful information. I deconverted from christianity a couple of years ago but just recently have been more open about this. I started reading the four horseman, Dawkins , Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens. Just like Peter states in the book "The Four Horseman identified the problems and raised our awareness, but they offered few solutions." In this book, Peter outlines how to discuss faith as a delusion. He does so in a very eloquent, thougtful manner. One that, if tatics a ...more
Sergei
This book teaches one important lesson, which helped me on several occasions, and its scope is more general than religious arguments. Here is the lesson:

Don't dispute facts. Establish common epistemology first.

I realize now that often I found myself arguing about facts, when it is "how do you know something is true" that should be agreed upon first.

Once the latter is done, the former becomes simpler.

If you cannot establish a common epistemology, thought, there is no point in arguing further.
Gary
You don't need to want to convert others into atheism to enjoy this book. A theist would not be turned off while listening to this book. The author is fairly non-threatening in his presentation.

I usually don't listen to every word when I'm listening to an Audible book, because sometimes my mind will wonder. This book was different. I listened to every word from the author since he writes simple sentences and reads his own work better than a professional could have and says something I was really
...more
Nathan Schwartz
Simple, a bit over the top, sometimes very frustrating, presented in a smug and pompous way. Still, it does have some interesting ideas. His main point that the word “faith” is used to separate belief based on evidence from belief in the face of evidence, is interesting and important. Christian’s strongly dispute this characterization, and I suppose they would, but it’s easy to see how it is accurate in most general usage of the word, and even in many theological and biblical writings. Boghossia ...more
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“Faith taints or at worst removes our curiosity about the world, what we should value, and what type of life we should lead. Faith replaces wonder with epistemological arrogance disguised as false humility. Faith immutably alters the starting conditions for inquiry by uprooting a hunger to know and sowing a warrantless confidence.” 13 likes
“If one had sufficient evidence to warrant belief in a particular claim, then one wouldn’t believe the claim on the basis of faith. “Faith” is the word one uses when one does not have enough evidence to justify holding a belief, but when one just goes ahead and believes anyway.” 8 likes
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